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Album Review: "Bittersweet" by The Accidentals

The Accidentals

"Bittersweet" by The Accidentals


Few things in life are quite as satisfying as a good folk tune. Perhaps it's that campfire, family and friends, Americana sort of vibe that it triggers, or that beautiful twang of the banjo, music's most under appreciated instrument. We've seen folk successfully done recently from the likes of Sufjan Stevens, The Avett Brothers, and even commercially from The Lumineers, Bon Iver, and a newly constructed John Mayer.

In come the Traverse City product, The Accidentals - A pairing of almost high school graduates, Katie Larson and Savannah Buist, who play just about every instrument this side of Lake Michigan (Perhaps another nod to Stevens' musicianship, also a Michigan product).

Bittersweet, the 2013 follow up to The Accidentals' 2012 full-length debut, Tangled Red and Blue, is certainly an easy listen, and doesn't try to be more than it is, which is fun, first-rate indie folk. Their youthful energy is infectious, and you can really hear the fun in their voice, which is perhaps most evident on tracks like "Miso Soup," a cut that could be taken directly off of a good indie flick's soundtrack (Juno, anyone?) and the quirky "Grisly Bear," with a refrain that will reside in your head for days on end, which is not a bad thing.

Other tracks like "Bittersweet" and "Benign Disillusion" are heavily influenced from Ingrid Michaelson's arsenal, with the latter being a perfect example of poignant simplicity, and a welcomed change of pace. For an album that extends to a lengthy 15 tracks, there's a surprising amount of variation to Bittersweet with an assortment of instruments (violin, banjo, cello, ukelele to name a few) taking center stage at certain moments, breathing vibrant life into their sound.

Bittersweet's most rewarding moments, however, are when The Accidentals are most vulnerable, in tracks like "Bulletproof Glass" with Buist's pitch perfect, melodic vocal and a haunting instrumental on "Ghost of a Lie" to once again match the emotion of Buist's voice. It's also at this point where we begin to realize that The Accidentals are already brilliant storytellers, which, in many ways is what makes good folk music. "The Silence," which possesses the album's premier melody, could easily be the band's most successful track with national audiences and local radio stations alike.

And even with a slew of influences and radio-friendly cuts, the entire package of The Accidentals could never be mistaken for anything other than The Accidentals, and this is what makes them future folk darlings. The musicianship and delicate preciseness to their music is unparalleled to anything else we've heard from talents of this age. Some of the harmonies these two produce, with two very distinct voices, are matured well beyond their years. Combine that with their vast instrumental depth, and these two ladies already have a crowning achievement that will impress even the biggest names in music. It may be difficult to label artists so young as captivating, but really, The Accidentals are just that.

Bittersweet, while not the greatest album you'll ever hear, is a remarkable realization of two artists ready to take the next step to stardom in the indie music realm, perhaps not on a fully commercial level, but one that will give them the satisfaction of creating music that is their own, while being able to call it a career. And after all, The Accidentals aren't in the business of making deep, profound music just yet to garner attention from superior coverage (though their lyrics are surprisingly organic). They are, however, in the business of making sweet, sweet folk tunes, and at this stage, there's nothing bitter about that.

The Accidentals are touring all over Michigan and a few parts of the US. Check out their site to find out where you can see them.

You can also purchase their album via iTunes or on Amazon.